So I’m going to say something really pretentious and let you in on a question that I get from time to time. It usually sounds something like this: “How do you write good poetry?” Yes, that is a bit of an awkward question to ask anyone who writes anything, but I can give you a few little nuggets of knowledge that generally lead to a better understanding of what poetry can be, and how I understand its effect on me and other people, and how you could perhaps get to know poetry and the power of writing it a little better for yourself. So here we go…
1) If you want to write good poetry, read good poetry.
2) Write bad poetry - most of what you write will be absolutely mediocre. But, keep writing, and writing, and writing, and writing, and reading, and writing. 90% of what I write is absolutely unsatisfying. But, the other 10% that makes me smile wouldn’t happen otherwise. So, keep writing.
3) Write about what you know; if you’ve had a boring life, then write about your boring life. If you’ve had an effed up life then write about your effed up life, but write about other things too.
4) Pay attention to how good storytellers tell stories.
5) Details are not always important - only sometimes.
6) Have fun for God’s sake.
7) Cut the melodramatic BS. It’s 2012…
8) YOUR RESPONSIBILITY AS A WRITER/POET/WHATEVER IS TO COMMUNICATE - something, anything - not to shroud your musings in obtuse imagery and vindictive metaphor so you can feel good about how no one knows what your poetry means but you, then feel good about yourself when you get to complain about how “No one gets your poetry.” Your poetry then is not high and lofty, it’s just pointless.
9) If you want to write good poetry, read good poetry.
This is obnoxiously incomprehensive, so feel free to add to this list as you feel fit. Poetry, of course, means different things to different people, and there is an entire spectrum of poetry that we’re dealing with here. What’s good poetry to me may not be so much to you, but, I think with some of these little points you’ll be able to find what fits you. I am a strong believer in the power of poetry, and if you disagree, I really think it’s because you haven’t found poetry that fits your tastes.
And if you want to know where to start reading good poetry, just ask. I’ve got some suggestions…